With no set plans in mind except for a tower climb, I went to the info point first thing after having a lovely little breakfast at my hotel. I picked up a map and was also told about a special tower tour taking place at 3:30 that afternoon. I purchased a combined ticket, which included the Torre Ghirlandina special tower tour, the Musei del Duomo (two little museums of items from the Cathedral), the Palazzo Comunale: sale storiche (town halls rooms), and the Acetaia Comunale (balsamic vinegar tour) for 6 euros. I was also told that many of the museums in Modena were free this Sunday. The woman at the info point circled the various museums for me on my map.
My first stop was a visit to thePalazzo Comunale: sale storiche (town hall rooms). When I arrived, I was told that the rooms were about to be closed for a wedding. I took a few photos and then waited for my next tour to start. Fortunately, I realized after taking those photos because of the yellowish color, that my camera was switched to the flash white balance setting. It’s a good thing I realized this early in the day and fortunately I was able to change the white balance setting when editing my photos.
The balsamic tour took place on the top floor of thePalazzo Comunale. Even though I attended a balsamic vinegar tour out at a farm in Modena back in 2011, I thought it would be fun to attend another this year. This tour was more of an abbreviated tour. Even though it was all in Italian, I understood enough or could figure out with the props and the previous tour what the man was talking about. It was fun taking photos of the barrels and the best part of the tour was when we were able to taste the various bottles of balsamic vinegar.
Next, I walked over to the beautiful Palazzo Ducale. I wish I had knonw that the water filled inside this strip on the street was not filled every day. I would have taken more photos. I am not sure of the significance of the water but it made for a pretty sight. The Palazzo Ducale is now the headquarters of the Italian Military Academy.
The Museo della Figurina (Picture Cards Museum), which was not far from the Palazzo Ducale. This was one of the free museums. I’m not sure what I thought this museum would be displaying and if I knew in advance, I would have skipped it. Interesting is all I can say! There were old stickers, trading cards, what seemed like comic book covers, and various other items in this museum. I thought it was amusing to see a display of old cassette tapes, 45 records, and a record player being displayed in a museum. It was not that long ago when I played cassette tapes!
In another section of the same building, was the Civic Gallery, where a couple of rooms housed a photography exhibit, with photos of wood and rocks. I did not take any photos there.
I returned to Piazza Grande, where I caught a glimpse of the bride and groom as the wedding was just finishing up. I took this photos earlier in the day. When I returned two of the workers were sweeping up the rice off the stairway.
I went back upstairs to take a few more photos, including photos of the famous Secchia rapita (stolen bucket). For centuries this bucket, a war trophy the Modenese snatched from the Bolognese during the Battle of Zappolino in 1325, was guarded in the Torre Ghirlandina (tower). Today, there is a replica of this bucket hanging in the tower and the original bucket is now housed in the Chamber of the Confirmed room of the Palazzo Comunale (town hall).
Next, I headed over to the Palazzo dei Musei (Museums Palace). This huge building contains a collection of museums. I visited this building back in 2008 during my first day trip to Modena. During that visit, just the collection of archeological items on the ground floor, which is always open when the building is open, and the Galleria Estense (Estense Gallery) were open. Just my luck! By the time I arrived, the only two museums or areas opened were the ones I visited in 2008. I was too late to visit the other museums.
Photos from the archeological ground floor display:
Photos from theGalleria Estense:
As I walked back towards Piazza Grande, I discovered this beautiful cluster of buildings and a fun little water fountain.
I can’t recall what I did for lunch that day. I do remember the gelato though! I stopped in Emilia Gelateria and ordered my usual, pistacchio and nocciola. YUM!!
I had about an hour to kill before the special tower tour began. I spent some time back inside the Duomo, where it was nice and cool.
The Torre Ghirlandina special tower tour began with one of the three actors singing outside the tower entrance. We were then led inside the tower. The three actors sang and acted out historical events as we reached each section of the tower. At the top of the tower, the woman from the info point, who told me about this special tour, provided us with additional information about the Torre Ghirlandina. It was all performed in Italian. I did not understand that much but still enjoyed the performance and was very excited being inside this amazing tower again! A few people from the morning balsamic vinegar tour were also part of this tour. I climbed this tower again later in the week so that I could take more photos. I will do another post just about this tower with more photos. Below are photos of the various sections of the tower with the actors singing and performing.
I still had one museum (a collection of two museums) left on my combined ticket to visit. The Musei del Duomo (two little museums of items from the Cathedral). The first of the two museums is the Museo Lapidario del Duomo (Lapidary Museum of the Cathedral). This was my second time visiting this little museum. The details of the various carvings and sculptures, which are made out of marble or stone and many of which are the original sculptures/carvings from the Cathedral are amazing! One of the original lions from outside of the Cathedral (last 2 photos below) is included in this collection.
The second museum is Museo del Duomo (Cathedral Museum). There is a beautiful staircase that leads to this museum. The Cathedral Museum houses various items related to the history of the Cathedral. I only took a few photos inside this museum.
After leaving these museums, I went on a search for a place to purchase some treats which would survive a train trip the following day to bring to my friends in Empoli. I found a beautiful little pasticceria, where I filled up a box of various cookies and other little treats.
I received a message from vodafone message saying that I did not have any money left on my phone. I really needed my phone to work for my train trip to Empoli to contact my friends when I arrived at the train station. I went to a tabaccheria and was told that it would cost 5 euros to make a small refill or 10 euros if she did it. I hesitated to do this since I knew I could not have used up all of the data, call, and message time I purchased for the month. I didn’t why I was getting this message on my phone. I decided to wait and went back to my hotel to see if the man at the desk could help me. He said that vodafone often does this and that he has had lots of problems with his mother’s account. I still was not sure what to do, but decided to wait, hoping that I would have enough money left to make one text message in Empoli at the train station and then have my friends help me figure it out what was going on with my phone.
I also asked for recommendations for dinner while talking to the man at the hotel desk. He gave me two recommendations. I decided to give Frigieri at try. This restaurant was pretty close to Chiesa di San Francesco. Frigieri is a relatively new restaurant. I was greeted by the owner. There also was one chef working in the back. The area where the food is prepared is behind a glass window, so you can watch what is going on in the kitchen. I have mixed reviews on this restaurant, which seems to be trying a new twist on Italian food. The owner was very enthusiastic but there really needed to be more help working there besides just the owner and a chef. Besides myself, there were two small groups of customers, one group seated in an adjacent room and one group seated near me. It ended taking over 2 and a half hours to be served my various orders and to then get a check. If I was eating with someone else and had hours to kill, I would not have minded but I had a long travel day tomorrow and I just wanted to get back to my hotel. I really should not have ordered dessert. That definitely extended the time I was stuck there.
The little basket of goodies brought to my table before I received any of my orders was delicious! The little strips were a combination of sweet and salty goodness. The tortelloni spinach ricotta and nuts dish could have used a little more sauce but still good. I was not a big fan of the salad. It was a combo of fruits, vegetables, and flowers, but the radicchio was bitter and overpowering and I was hesitant eating the flowers, even though the owner assured me they were safe to eat. The dish was pretty though! The lemon torta was too sweet and dense for my taste.